Bhava and Bhavanga – Simply Explained!

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    • #13784
      Johnny_Lim
      Participant

      Hi Lal,

      Is the Bhavanga maintained by our kammic energy, specifically by the Jīvitindriya cetasika?

      Under point #10 of the post…
      “Here the kammic power will start bringing various thoughts to the mind via the mana indriya that are compatible with the strongest kamma beeja. For example, one who is about to grasp a new life in the hell (niraya) may start recalling some fear-generating events…”

      I can attest to this phenomena. When I was a kid, I saw my grandma behaving very weirdly when she was lying on the bed, hours before passing away. She was moving her limbs like trying to fend off something in the air. I kept calling her to no avail. It was as if she was being attacked by something which I could not see. It was not a pleasant sight. Honestly, I was scared to tears. That image was etched into my mind for a very long time. I learned from my mum that grandma used to rear pigs for slaughter in the past. I believe this could be the reason for her strange behaviour during the last moments of her death.

    • #13785
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Johnny_Lim said:”Is the Bhavanga maintained by our kammic energy, specifically by the Jīvitindriya cetasika?”.

      That is a good question. I had not thought about it. But here are some initial thoughts.

      Bhavanga is a “state of mind”. When fully in bhavanga, there no flowing citta vithi. However, bhavanga citta can fill in parts of a citta vithi. So, all universal cetasika will be in any bhavanga citta. However, I have not seen any information about the involvement of cetasika in a fully bhavanga state. May be someone else has more information on this.

      Yes. While depressing and saddening, your Grandma’s experience could be related to what you suggested. I have heard and read similar accounts from many others.

      There are several accounts in the Tipitaka too. Cunda Sukara, who killed pigs for living, screamed like a dying pig for several days at the end before dying. The Buddha said that it was because he was seeing images of an apaya where he was going to be born.

    • #13789
      sybe07
      Spectator

      Thanks Lal.

      I have understood that bhava can (also) refer to a specific state of mind in this live (point 2 in your post). It seems like bhavanga can also refer to a temporary specific state of mind, like being depressed or sad. It is not really clear to me what is the difference between those two.

      Siebe

    • #13794
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Siebe said: “I have understood that bhava can (also) refer to a specific state of mind in this live (point 2 in your post)…It is not really clear to me what is the difference between those two.”

      Here is #2 on the post:

      “2. Basically, bhava means “the potential for existence” in EITHER one of the 31 realms of possible existence (we can see just the human and animal realms) OR as some specific state of mind within the current life.

      In the first category, there is human bhava, animal bhava, Tusita deva bhava, peta bhava, abhassara brahma bhava, etc.: existence in one of the 31 possible realms. As we will see below, many such “potential bhava” exists for each living being, and at the end of the current bhava, a new one will grasped based on the relative energies for various bhava (kamma beeja) that one has cultivated in one’s past.

      – Even during this lifetime, we “live under different existences” based on significant life events. This is the second category. For example, a normally “good person” may become violent for a short time upon seeing his wife in bed with another man, or one will live in a “state of sorrow” for many days upon the death of a loved one.”

      In the first category, “the state of the mind” is that state acquired at the moment of grasping the current human bhava, as explained in the post. For example, like remembering previously done good deed.

      First kind lasts through the lifetime, and the second kind is temporary, short term, AND changes from event to event. Of course, the second kind overrides the first kind while it is in effect, but the first kind ALWAYS comes back.

      Can you state clearly why you don’t see the difference between those two categories?

    • #13796
      sybe07
      Spectator

      Hi Lal,

      I think i understand this two kinds of bhava’s. For me it is very useful to learn this. For many interpretations do miss this second kind of understanding of bhava.

      The second meaning of of bhava refers to a temporary state of mind like becoming violent or depressed for many days upon a death loved one.

      But i get a little bit confused when it seems bhavanga can also refer to such a temporary state of mind. You say: “On the other hand, when one’s mind is deeply affected by some event like in the examples we mentioned above, then the mind goes into a “temporary bhavanga state” corresponding to that event (“state of rage” when really angry or “state of sadness” upon the death of a loved one). We can denote this by BT”.

      So it seems, but maybe i misunderstand, the second kind of bhava is the same as Bt?

      Do you see what i mean? I wonder, what is the difference between the second meaning of bhava and temporary bhavanga?

      kind regards,
      Siebe

    • #13798
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Siebe said: “So it seems.. the second kind of bhava is the same as Bt?”.

      Yes.

    • #13812
      sybe07
      Spectator

      Aha:-) Sometimes i understand something.

      Lal, do you think (or know), the natural bhavanga can this be troubled? Is it possible that a human being, for example, has some background that is just dark, negative? Not as a temporary bhavanga but as a kind of background that is always there and at best hided by the presence of temporary positive mental factors?

      kind regards,
      Siebe

    • #13817
      Lal
      Keymaster

      @Siebe: Do you mean: Can natural bhavanga be changed?.

      No. The natural bhavnga is unchanged for the whole bhava, even for future births within the same bhava.

      One cannot really feel one’s bhavanga, just like one cannot see one’s own eye (except in a mirror). But, it is the bhavanga that makes conditions for compatible thought objects to come in (through the mana indriya).

      For example, when one is in a “temporary sad bhavanga state” one feels an overall sadness only because more and more sad thoughts come to the mind. One does not directly feel the sadness. When one is in a “temporary angry bhavanga state” one feels an overall state of anger only because more and more angry thoughts come to the mind.

      But one CAN overcome that by forcing the mind to focus on something different. Here the best is to start thinking about the drawbacks (adinava) of continuing to be angry.

      Therefore, the key point is that when one learns Dhamma, one will not be bound by bhavanga (unless one has an ahetuka birth). One can learn to be mindful and change the initial course of action that is set automatically by the bhavanga, gati, avijja, etc. While one cannot change bhavanga, one can change gati and avijja. That is why Nibbana is possible.

    • #13818
      sybe07
      Spectator

      Clear, thank you.

      siebe

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